VIOLA-TING AMERICA - Chasing the dream of music and motos

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by viola-tor, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    VIOLA-TING AMERICA - Chasing the dream of music and motos

    Hello inmates! I’d like to formally introduce myself to the Asylum: I’ll be “viola-tor“ to YFFs. I’ve been lurking for a while, moderately active for a time, and this is my first ride report. It’s gonna be a doozy, one of those long journals I hope, though I can’t claim that mine will be as entertaining or as good of a read as some of the round-the-world riders’ reports, we just have to see how the adventure pans out, eh? I’d be really pleased if as many chicks are featured in my reports as there are in the Viking’s, but statistically I’m not sure that’s even possible! :lol3 I’m taking some turns (literally and figuratively) in my life that could bring everything together in a sublime way, or it could turn out the other way, the dark way, but I don’t think so. It’s just crazy enough to work! I keep thinking there will be defining moment to start the report, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen, since the wheels are already in motion (pun intended). There’s no sense in putting it off any longer, that would just mean more reflecting and catching up on what’s happening at an already fast pace.

    Here’s the pitch: A talented but struggling musical artist defies tradition and combines his passion for motorcycle travel with the art of classical music to chase his dreams across the country (and beyond?). I know, I know, it probably doesn’t sound so grand to the ADVRIDER community here, but in the realm of classical music this is pretty crazy talk! I have a very real chance of combining my quest for a major symphony orchestra position with adventure motorcycling into a whole lifestyle, and THAT to me is very exciting indeed!

    “Outside?!? What if there’s a spider? OMG!”

    “Ride a motorcycle? What if it rains? OMG!”

    Over the course this ride report I also hope to bring a little culture to YFFs. I know a lot of the motorcycle community isn’t into classical music, and anything I can do to bring more fans to this great genre one inmate at a time can only help the cause. I’m exploring the idea of a parallel report geared more towards non-riders and musicians which will expose them to the trials and tribulations of the motorcyclist, for many of THOSE lofty artists are ignorant of the dark arts of adventure motorcycling. I’m working on some blog webspace for the non-FF’s civilians.

    In case you hadn’t guessed from my name, I play the viola (get it? Viola, Violator, VIOLA-TOR!!!). For you ignorant FF’s it’s like a violin in appearance and is played up on the shoulder, but it’s considerably bigger and sounds a fifth lower than a violin. It’s pronounced VEE-OH-LA, which doesn’t really make sense when you think about it, but that’s the way it is. Violas typically have a more mellow sound, darker tone, and have a rich resonance that fills the role between the more well known cellos and the violins in the orchestra and in string quartets (which have two violins, a viola, and cello). Violas and violists are also the butt of many musical jokes, more so than probably any other instrument, kinda like blond jokes! It’s part of the tradition and all in good fun.

    Q: What’s the difference between a viola and a chain-saw?
    A: You can tune a chain-saw.

    Q: How do you know when there’s a violist at your door?
    A: You know because they can’t find the key and don’t know when to come in.

    Q: What’s the difference between a violin and a viola?
    A: The viola is bigger, so it holds more beer! (Alternative answer: It burns longer.)

    There are hundreds if not thousands of these jokes...

    All the rest of the details and back-story should become clear in the first few posts. Some of the motorcycle related subjects will seem redundant or self explanatory, but I hope that there will be non-riders reading my reports too. Likewise some of the musical content will be elementary for a musician, but I’ll try to make this educational and entertaining for everyone. I’d say I play music very well (pro for 10 yrs), I’m an experienced rider (fast approaching 100,000 mi), a decent writer, a decent photographer, and my video skills are growing too, so put it all together and it should be a good ride!

    Whatcha think?


    Highlights of what’s to come:

    THRILLS!

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    TRILLS!!!

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    [​IMG]

    SPILLS!!!

    [​IMG]

    CHILLS!!!

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    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    q. Why are a viola player's fingers like lightning?
    a. Because they never hit the same place twice!


    You were at WF08, weren't you?

    Hope your ride report is as good as your playing.



    :lurk
    #2
  3. Ratty2austin

    Ratty2austin commutercycle

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    If this is the same guy, I have a few good photos of him from WF :evil






    :lurk
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    That's some intro :thumb

    Now let's get the ride report under way! :lurk
    #4
  5. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Yesiree, that's me!
    #5
  6. windburn

    windburn Long timer

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    Well the tuning of the instrument has been done Now get on with the music :D
    #6
  7. WSikorski

    WSikorski Long timer

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    You've got at least one inmate here that listens to classical music.

    We recently attended a salon style concert played by three members of the Philomel Baroque Orchestra. The instruments, recorders, cello and gamba, harpsicord.

    The weather was was unseasonably warm and humid, the venue was a Fairmount Park mansion. The cello and gamba needed constant re-tuning.

    Looking forward to your report.

    in closing:

    <DT>Why do people tremble with fear when someone comes into a bank carrying a violin case? <DD> </DD>They think he's carrying a machine gun and might be about to use it.
    <DT> <DT>Why do people tremble with fear when someone comes into a bank carrying a viola case? </DT>
    They think he's carrying a viola and might be about to use it.
    #7
  8. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Here we go...

    I&#8217;m about to undertake a journey of personal growth. It sounds crazy, maybe even like a bad idea, but sometimes one has to trust that gut feeling that motivates a person to DO. Shake the status quo, stick it to the man, march to the beat of your own drummer... These little catch phrases are a convenient way to package a crazy idea and validate it. I guess only hindsight will show if the idea was worth the cost and/or risk. Either way I&#8217;ll have some great stories!

    I&#8217;m a violist, I play the viola. I was a violist before I even knew it. My sister, brother and I all had violin lessons as children growing up. Life gets moving along and things happen, all kinds of wonderful and terrible things. Somehow I kept playing through it all while my siblings moved onwards and upwards in life. I eventually found myself in college majoring in music. I wasn&#8217;t really all that good, but there I was, so roll with it. At my school all violin majors have to take a semester of viola (for a dose of perspective perhaps? Or maybe a glimpse of how bad things could be? [that&#8217;s a viola joke, BTW]). I was &#8220;persuaded&#8221; (read: forced) by both my violin and viola teachers to purge the violin toxins from my body and become a pure violist. Within two weeks of giving up the violin I could feel a distinct shift. Suddenly everything made sense, I could move, I could navigate around the instrument confidently, I could express my musical ideas better. Kinda like finding the right motorcycle that just fits. I was home.
    #8
  9. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Flash forward to present day: I’m a moderately successful young professional violist. I’ve never had a “real” job other than a paper route in high school and working for my uncle in a machine shop for a summer when I was sixteen for the “learning experience.” All I really learned was that I wasn’t wired for that type of work, and I’m pretty sure I ended up costing him more money than saving him. Oh well, sorry Uncle Bill! It was useful in hindsight, but it seemed at the time that all I was accomplishing was making a fool of myself in front of grown men that I had nothing in common with. Other than that “life shaping” experience of sweeping up metal shavings I’ve been able to pay my own way by playing the viola, first with string quartet gigs for weddings and receptions, and then gradually subbing in orchestras and eventually winning auditions for ever bigger and better groups. The scholarships helped to get some pieces of paper saying how artsey I am (three in all) so it didn’t cost me much, if anything. I figure I broke even on the education, much better off than most young musicians I know. I don’t want to make it sound like my success is chance or luck because there was lots of hard work, long hours of practice and many incredible musicians and family along the way to guide me, so I’m well aware that I’ve been given many gifts, but the past always seems so fast. How is it that I can condense over twenty years of learning to play an instrument into two paragraphs?

    When I was getting my Master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma the motorcycle bug bit and bit hard. I was performing a 4th of July concert with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at an outdoor event in Yukon, Oklahoma (the home town of Garth Brooks). I-40 westbound from OKC to Yukon takes you past a waterpark and more importantly a BMW motorcycle dealership. Curiosity led me to peek in the darkened windows after the concert. I’d only noticed one BMW bike before (a ivory R1200C when I was at the Aspen Music Festival, and I remember being shocked at how quiet it hummed and how elegant it was visually), and my only riding experience was the summer I worked for my Uncle riding a teeny old Yamaha trail bike (70cc? 90cc? Can’t remember the model), but in a family of fishermen I remember having more fun riding up and down the Colorado mountain trails to the fishing spots then the actually fishing (which is still true for me today!). When I looked in the windows of that BMW dealer I felt like I was seeing the hangar of the Death Star! So many glistening powerful machines calling out to me... It had been years since my experience with the trail bikes; honestly I’d forgotten all about it. Seeing those bikes in the darkened interior stirred something inside me. I had to look into this! To make a long story short (well, to slightly shorten my long story!) I bought a used BMW ivory R1200C for my first motorcycle (!?! I've learned a lot since then! :evil). I was unlicensed and was damn lucky I didn’t tip the thing over on my “test ride” in which I never left the parking lot. At least I had the sense to have them deliver my bike to my sister’s garage, saving me from becoming one of the riders who crashes leaving the dealership.
    #9
  10. E900Vadar

    E900Vadar The Dark Fant

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    Maybe soon we get to see the pics?
    #10
  11. ADK

    ADK ____

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    an R1200C is elegant? :loco
    #11
  12. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Oh yeah, plenty coming! :evil
    #12
  13. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Yeah, silly me... Good thing I'm all learned now! KLR's are even starting to look good! :lol3
    #13
  14. GS Bones

    GS Bones Long timer

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    Here is what I know..........



    Well played, the Viola can offer some of the most haunting and moving music on the planet. And they are hard to play well. And they are hard to tune. And good ones are a lot more expensive than high end motorcycles.


    SO, how do you carry a good quality Viola on a motorcycle tour (rain and terrain being of concern)?


    Let's see pics....

    Can't wait for the report.




    Bones
    #14
  15. cyclebabble

    cyclebabble Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to this report!! And...ahem, I am a fan of classical music as well, but just as happy listening to Slipknot.

    Bring on the pics!

    Chris
    #15
  16. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Hey GS Bones, you are absolutely correct on all counts, stay tuned! This is soooo cool...
    #16
  17. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Okay, lets test some gear! If I’m gonna do this long term and quasi-professionally I need to be outfitted properly (whatever that means. I’m making this up as I go along!).

    I’ve been motorcycle sport-touring for a few years now, and I’ve gotten my system down pretty well, but I’ve recently added new items that will hopefully allow me to chase this crazy music-moto lifestyle. If I’m gonna be ready to communicate professionally I need a computer, so I’ll be taking my Mac which is a first for me. Obviously if I’m gonna be playing I need a viola plus all the instrumental accouterment, so I have to think about that too...

    I decided to take a quick three day, two night “warm-up” lap to Guadalupe National Park for some camping, hiking and practicing to shake down my new rig (viola/sheet music/computer/hiking and camping gear, ect). I love hiking, and so far I haven’t yet been to the highest point in Texas (Guadelupe Peak), so I need to knock that puppy out too (‘cause that’s how I roll, knocking puppies out. Yeah.).

    Ride what you got, right? My bike is my, uhhh, “trusty” BMW K1200RS, “Red Pill.” Ready to roll. I bought a special pack to fit my ultra-light shaped viola case specifically.

    [​IMG]

    Red Pill and I have been through thick and thin for about five years together and tens of thousands of miles near and far. We know each other really well, I’ve dismantled her down most of the way a number of times and I ride her hard, so she has a lot of “character marks.” I’m not big into garage queens. I badly want a big adventure dual sport, but it’s not in cards as a struggling musician right now, I’m a one-bike man. Besides, I do like the speed thing and crazy lean angles. Off-road riding will have to wait. (maybe...)

    It’s funny, it seems like when I ride everyday I can launch quicker, but being away from the bike and cagin’ it even for one day messes up the routine and the next time back on the bike takes ages to prep. The early morning departure quickly turns into daylight which leads to afternoon... Doh. I was hoping to make it to the park to camp both nights, but the sun gets low and my map throws me a curve. Naturally I’m avoiding interstates and I’m trying to avoid the “obvious” high-traffic routes too, and my map shows a parallel road that goes out into the nothingness in way-west Texas. Perfect! Or so I thought...

    The Farm to Market road appears to connect through, and with the sun getting close the horizon I turn up the heat and head north on the deserted tarmac. The BMW is humming, I crouch down as best I can with my crazy viola pack to at least get some of my helmet behind the windscreen as the speedo climbs: 80, 90, 100, 110, 120... The road is gun-shot straight and not a soul to be seen for miles. I have almost unending visibility, the only thing stirring are a few jack rabbits which bring my numbers to sub-triple digits from time to time. I do this for 50 miles. I’d really like to make it to Guadelupe to camp tonight, even if it means riding for a bit while it’s dark. I figure I’d ride as fast as I can while I can see, then slow it down considerably for when I can’t.

    I’m flying along and finally see the “T” junction I’ve been anticipating in the distance and start slowing for the stop sign, raising my body up back into the wind stream. Suddenly the pavement quality deteriorates and the bike starts shuddering as I cross these crazy invisible lumps. I’m still traveling fairly fast, maybe 70-80ish, and I find my self in a tank-slapper! I try to stay loose as the bars gyrate back and forth while the front wheel searches for grip. Somehow I regain control, still a quarter mile from the junction. I curse the road maintenance more than a little bit, and wonder why it gets bad so suddenly. (Wouldn’t have anything to do with my speed, surely! ;-)) There’s an abandoned installation of some sort at the junction: old antennas, rusty buildings, cable fences and even tall street lights, all corroding away. Military base? Middle of nowhere. Naturally my imagination starts thinking of Area 51 type conspiracies. There were some “no trespassing” signs with some cable over the road, but they looked pretty old and unofficial to me. No matter, just passing through! I hang a right at the sign and continue on paralleling an old railroad bed.

    [​IMG]

    Something isn’t right. There’s no center stripe, and bit farther there are shrubs and cactus growing out into and over the roadway, effectively making it one lane. The road surface has lots of pot holes and cracks. After about two miles I come to this:

    [​IMG]

    Great. Private Property. This explains why the very end of the county road isn’t maintained very well, ‘cause it basically dead-ends. The gate is open and there’s a phone number on the hand-painted sign to call for permission to pass through, so I skeptically retrieve my cell phone to check for a signal: No dice, figured. I could risk it, try to ride on through, but what if there’s a locked gate at the other end? I have enough gas to go on or go back, but not both. Going back means I’ve just lost a hundred miles worth of time at least. Hmmm, what to do?

    If I move either direction I know I’ll be riding in the dark. I retrace my steps back to the junction to see if I missed something. Nope, just like the map says, except for the private property/gate problem. I’m getting tired and I don’t feel like making an important/risky decision when I’m not thinking so clearly. Okay, I haven’t seen ANYONE for 50 miles, and I doubt I will after dark, plus I have food, water, and shelter so I decide to camp right there off the road a bit next to the old railroad bed so I can decide in the morning what to do with a clear head. I find a flat spot and pitch, becoming more and more comfortable with my decision to chill here as the evening desert sounds start to come alive.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This monster was passing by, I decided to inconvenience her for a photo shoot. She wasn’t too happy about it, bit my glove and camera a few times.

    [​IMG]

    Is it a tarantula? It was about that size, but I’ve never seen a black one, most of them are brown and not as aggressive where I come from. Normally you can handle them with no attacks. I heard tarantulas’ fangs can’t penetrate the skin, but those big red stingers on this one look pretty menacing to me. As a kid I would’ve simply picked it up, but I guess I’m a little older and more cautious now so I leave the glove on. Maybe in a few years I’ll opt out altogether and just let a spider pass unmolested... LOL!

    This camera has a sweet macro mode!

    [​IMG]

    Closer...

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    CLOSER!!!

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    This bug was a little bigger than a lady-bug, and FLUORESCENT red, the pic doesn’t quite do it justice. I spotted it from twenty feet away. Anyone know what it is? Kinda fuzzy too.

    [​IMG]

    There are coyotes warming up their voices and a surprising variety of bird songs beginning to sound as the sun touches the horizon. All kinds of Jurassic colossal insects are moving about in the air and on the ground, but none of them are bothering me, and best of all no ‘skeeters!
    I’m here to test my gear so I deploy the experimental high-tech moto-viola to contribute my own desert song to usher in the night...
    #17
  18. SATEX

    SATEX Long timer

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    Great report! :D Keep it coming. Having the delight of meeting you recently, I must add that you write with the same joyful abandon with which you communicate in person.

    A couple of things more. I also used to own a (much maligned on this board) R1200C. It's a nice bike for what it is, but what it is is not for me.

    Finally, I noted with interest your comments regarding hiking in Guadalupe NP in west TX. Come to our Friday breakfast and you'll find out that the S.T.U.D.S. (South Texas United Dual Sports :evil ) are planning that very trip in the near future.

    Blake
    #18
  19. R1200GSA

    R1200GSA Been here awhile

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    :lurk Looking forward to future posts! You officially have my attention. Now I have to find out what that red fuzzy bug is......................
    #19
  20. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff Man of Mystery

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    Cool! That is one pissed off tarantula! But the other "bug" is a spider too. Note the number of legs --8, and then pedipalps. Never seen one like it, nice shot!
    #20